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Hurdles in attaining a cyber-secured Nigeria

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By Usman Oladimeji

Nigeria is experiencing the second highest rate of cyberattacks in Africa.

The continuous evolving of technology advancement in Nigeria is being overshadowed by a concerning rise in cyber attacks, hindering the country’s productivity. An alarming revelation was made by the federal government in March 2023, stating that a staggering 12,988,978 cyber attacks occurred during the presidential and National Assembly elections in February of the same year. Hence, it is evident that the prevalence of cyber threats in Nigeria’s digital sphere presents a substantial obstacle to the country’s advancement in technology, amidst the constant introduction of new ideas and inventions.

Acting upon its mandate, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has been actively tackling the issue through various initiatives such as awareness campaigns, partnerships, and training cybersecurity professionals. They emphasized the urgency of enhancing cybersecurity in Nigeria’s digital space to combat cyber threats effectively. During a presentation on Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) 2.0, Malam Kashifu Abdullahi Inuwa, the Director General of NITDA, emphasized the importance of cybersecurity in establishing trust and confidence in digital services, stating that it is no longer just a technical requirement but a vital foundation in today’s digital era.

Nigeria is growing in vulnerability to cyber threats.

With the ever-changing digital world, the risks to data security and system stability are becoming more advanced. Kashifu stated that our focus on cybersecurity is geared towards creating a strong digital space that allows individuals and businesses to work securely. It is evident from recent data that cyber threats in the country are increasing in both frequency and complexity. A report released by Kaspersky in June 2023 revealed that Nigeria is experiencing the second highest rate of cyberattacks in Africa and ranks 50th on a global scale. This highlights the country’s growing vulnerability to cyber threats.

In 2022, Patricia, a well-known fintech company and online marketplace based in Nigeria, experienced a cyberattack that resulted in approximately $2 million in losses. During the last couple of years, cyber-attacks have targeted servers belonging to The National Population Commission (NPC), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as well as major universities in Nigeria. The gravity of cyberattacks is highlighted by these instances, showing that dealing with them is not something to be taken lightly. It is imperative to come up with efficient and precise strategies to combat these dangers.

Lack of awareness among the majority exacerbates the problem.

A major vulnerability within cybersecurity is the persistent use of obsolete systems. Various entities in Nigeria, including government agencies and educational institutions, are vulnerable due to their continued use of outdated technologies that are susceptible to cyber attacks. Additionally, the lack of awareness exacerbates the problem, with a sizable portion of the population not fully understanding the dangers and proper practices in the digital world. It is important to address the lack of understanding around cyber threats by implementing thorough awareness campaigns and educational programs. These initiatives would bridge the knowledge gap and protect against potential risks.

It’s surprising that in this day and age, some people are still using personal information like their last name or birthdate as passwords for their banking apps. Many find setting up Two-Factor Authentication to be a hassle, and the lack of coordinated efforts to fight cyber threats leaves us exposed. There is a need for unified strategy to effectively combat cyber threats. Collaboration among institutions, government entities, and cybersecurity professionals is essential to strengthening our defences and effectively addressing new security challenges.

Related Article: Cost of cybercrime to reach $12trn by 2025

Creating strong policy frameworks that adhere to global cybersecurity standards is crucial in the fight against cyber threats. These frameworks will provide a roadmap for both public and private organizations, encouraging a collective effort to enhance cybersecurity. Additionally, conducting frequent evaluations of existing security measures is essential to ensure they remain effective and able to respond to evolving threats. NITDA must prioritize improving its ability to quickly detect, minimize, and address cyber threats by leveraging state-of-the-art technologies. This involves utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning for proactive analysis to effectively combat cyber incidents in real-time.

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